CAIRO — First responders were treated to a free breakfast buffet Wednesday morning, courtesy of the Grady County Ministerial Association.
Bill Staten, Ministerial Association president and pastor at Faith Christian Center, said 85 cops, firefighters and utility linemen took part in the 2019 Heroes' Breakfast at the Pickle Patch Deli.
"It's just to honor them and appreciate them for what they do for our community," said Travis Harrison, pastor at First Assembly of God in Cairo. "We all remember the tragedies of 9/11, and it's a good time to recognize our heroes."
Outside of their jobs, Harrison said many first responders are members of the churches represented by the Ministerial Association.
"They worship among us and live among us," he said. "We just feel like as leaders of the community, it's important to lead the effort to recognize them, especially at this time of year."
Staten said the Ministerial Association wound up spending more than $800 to pay for all the breakfasts.
Breakfasts were served buffet-style and included eggs, sausage, grits and biscuits and gravy, among other items.
Ministerial Association members passed out devotional materials and gave away prizes.
The event, which has taken place annually on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks for the past five years, was originally the idea of Buddy Whatley, pastor at Woodland and Bold Springs United Methodist churches.
"I've always had a heart for (first responders)," Whatley said. "They do a lot and they're not the highest paid folks in the community and yet they risk their lives every day. I just figured somebody ought to say thank you."
The Ministerial Association already had breakfasts for educators and for community heroes, but a series of bad storms in Grady County led Whatley to decide that something needed to be done for first responders.
Whatley himself had previously volunteered with police and fire departments as a chaplain, and his father was a volunteer firefighter in Cairo.
"My heart kind of moves in that direction," Whatley said.